When Should You Travel With a Tour Group?

Hikers and guide in the desert looking at the Dead Sea
••• Dan Porges / Getty Images

Some travelers always choose guided tours, while others prefer to make travel arrangements on their own. There are times, however, when traveling with a tour group might be the better choice. Let's take a closer look at some of these situations.

Unfamiliar Language and Customs

Perhaps you have always wanted to visit China or Russia, but worry that you will not be able to make yourself understood or find your way around.

A tour group, led by a guide that speaks your native language fluently, might be the best way to see your dream destination. Your tour guide knows the local area and can give you tips for exploring during your free time, too. You will be able to ask questions and make the most of your vacation experience.

Driving Is Not an Option

There are times when driving in an unfamiliar place is not a good idea. You may be dealing with newly-diagnosed impaired vision, or you may just want to avoid driving on the other side of the road. In some countries (Ireland, for example), car rental companies set age limits that might also prevent you from driving on your own. You may want to explore an area where rental car companies will not let you drive. In cases like these, a tour group could be your most affordable option.

Access to Sights, Events and Opportunities

If you have always wanted to travel to Cuba and are an American citizen, or you yearn to see penguins, a tour group might be your only option.

Some travel opportunities are available only to tour groups. For example, US citizens may only travel to Cuba with an approved travel provider, and most visitors to Antarctica get there via cruise ship or tour group.

You Need Specialized Equipment or Vehicles

Sometimes taking a tour is the easiest way to gain access to specialized gear, such as a bicycle, or a vehicle, such as a tundra vehicle, that you will need at your destination.

It is difficult to safely view polar bears without a tundra vehicle, and you can't rent one at the airport. Similarly, if you are doing a bicycle tour on another continent, going with a tour group will make the logistics of renting a bicycle much easier.

Meeting New People Is a Priority

For some travelers, making new friends is very important. It is much easier to meet people in a tour group, where people must travel together, than it is if you vacation on your own. In a tour group, you will be able to get to know your fellow travelers during bus rides and at mealtimes as well as during your sightseeing excursions. Your fellow travelers will want to make friends, too, so you will have no trouble finding travel buddies on your tour.

You Don't Have Time to Plan Your Trip

Researching destinations, transportation options, accommodations and sightseeing opportunities takes a great deal of time. If you are too busy to research and plan your vacation, taking a tour might be a good choice for you. Your tour company will make your travel arrangements, and you will be able to visit your chosen destination without having to think about flights, ground transportation or hotel reservations. Many tour companies offer customizable tours, too.

This might be a good option if you can't find an itinerary that includes all the places you want to visit.

Personal Safety / Solo Travel

If you are traveling alone or are worried about personal safety, you may feel more comfortable traveling with a tour group. You will be able to see the sights without worrying about most safety issues. Be prepared to guard against pickpockets; they prey on tour groups as well as individuals.

Tip: Solo travelers may be asked to pay a single supplement, which could significantly increase the cost of your trip. Consider finding a travel companion or participating in your tour group's roommate-finding service, if offered, in order to avoid the single supplement.